6 Reasons Why Your Social Marketing Efforts Are Failing

Lewis Bertolucci
Lewis Bertolucci Head of Social Media, Humana

Posted on August 22nd 2014

6 Reasons Why Your Social Marketing Efforts Are Failing

Often times in the social media space we hear about how companies aren't realizing the value of their social marketing efforts. Based on my experience and observations, sometimes there are simple reasons why your social marketing efforts may be failing or not realizing their full potential. Here are 6 reasons why your social marketing efforts may be failing.

1. Starting With Tactics

More often than not, we start with a tactic (i.e. We want a Facebook Page, a Community, a Social Contest / Campaign), but what we do not ask is, WHY?

Key Questions to Ask:

  • What is the purpose or the problem we’re trying to solve for?
  • What objectives are we trying to achieve and are they aligned around current or future efforts?
  • What key pillars of our business are we trying to uphold or demonstrate in social?

2. Scope is Too Wide or Lack of Focus

With social, there are far too many channels and we continue to see new channels surface. Instead of trying to conquer everything at once, determine which efforts are best for your business and start with the most relevant ones that bring the most bang for your buck. Take an iterative approach, focusing on too much may yield smaller returns; instead, focus on the vital 20% that will move your business forward. Prioritize.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • What is our priority or have we prioritized what we’re doing today?
  • Is our scope too broad? If so, what can we sunset or sideline, to focus on the 20% that will return the greatest value?
  • Are we moving the needle today? Honest self-reflection of whether or not you think you are doing a good job is healthy.

3. Lack of Audience Understanding

Who is your audience, where are they and what are their interests? Instead of just jumping on the next shiny object, understand your audience and meet them where they are. Social intelligence / listening can help you determine where they are and what’s relevant to them.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • Do we know where our audience is today? If you answered everywhere and everyone, keep digging.
  • How are we supporting the customer life cycle (discovery, education, buy, engage, retain)?
  • Do we know what our audience finds relevant, useful and important?

4. No Clear Measurement Strategy

After we define our objectives, we often neglect to appropriately align objectives with specific and measurable metrics. You can use the SMART Methodology to help guide you.

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • Do we know what success looks like?
  • Do we have any benchmarks to work from?
  • What intent / objective are we trying to achieve and what metrics make the most sense to measure?
  • Would these metrics make sense to our leadership team when presented? Are they important to leadership?
  • Is this investment in budget and resources the best use for us or we just doing it because it sounds like a good idea?

5. Minimal Relevance and Usefulness to Our Audience

As marketers, one of the biggest challenges we face is thinking the content we’re serving-up to our audience is what they want. Most consumers agree that the content they receive from companies are not relevant or useful to them.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • Is our content self-serving, too marketing focused? Try to use the 80-10-10 rule, 80% of your content is non-sales focused, but rather useful and relevant content to your audience, 10% is focused on marketing for your company and 10% that may not be related to either that's just be fun (perhaps a cat meme, everyone loves those right?). Play with the %'s until you find what works best.
  • Is our audience engaging with your content and are we tracking / evolving our content?
  • Do we have a content strategy that’s based on consumer intelligence or the voice of the customer?

6. No Operational Plan

Creating a Facebook Page, Twitter Handle, YouTube Channel or a Community is the easiest part of the process – maintaining, moderating, growing and evolving those channels is the most challenging.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • Have we considered what it’s going to take to maintain this over the immediate and long-term (this is not a 1-2 year project, social is long-term, think that way!).
  • Have we identified resources that will specifically be assigned to this work?
  • What budget will it take to maintain, grow and evolve this channel over the long-term?
  • Are we prepared to handle and do we know how to handle consumer interactions (customer service questions or general inquiries) to create an exceptional consumer experience?
  • What’s it going to take to attract consumers? If you build it, THEY WILL NOT COME. Have a plan in place.

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” - Ellen DeGeneres

We don't always succeed and failure is nearly inevitable. If you do fail, fail smart, quickly and learn from it. Of course, each scenario and company is unique and I’m sure there are topics that I missed… so what are they? I’d love to hear your feedback!

image via Flickr Nima Badiey

Lewis Bertolucci

Lewis Bertolucci

Head of Social Media, Humana

Lewis is currently Head of Social Media for Fortune 100 Humana Inc., where he's built a sustainable social media program across 55,000 associates from the ground up and is responsible for their Enterprise Social Network of over 37,000 registered associates. He is also founder of LimeWedge.net, an online lifestyle magazine featuring the latest in entertainment for today’s trendsetters and Discover-Louisville.com, a hyper-local online magazine rack.

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